Action in the FIBA Asia 2015 heated up yesterday as a heavy favorite fell to a dark horse in Group E. The Philippines played their hearts out and took down tournament juggernaut, Iran 87-73. The win secured a quarterfinals berth for the Philippines and are in line to be the top seed entering the knockout round. The Philippines rode a tremendous game put together by star point guard Jayson Castro, who shot 11-of-18 from the field en route to his game-high 26 points. Iran’s Hamed Haddadi was outclassed and outplayed by naturalized Filipino-American player Andray Blatche. Haddadi, who normally serves as Iran’s main scorer in the paint was limited to 10 points, while his counterpart put up 18.
In other Group E games, India topped Hong Kong 76-71 to keep their hopes alive to advance to the next stage. They pulled it together in the second half after initially struggling on offense. India was lifted by the massive double-double performance of Amjyot Singh who scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. India was tough to beat in the shaded area, making 51% of their shots from two-point range. Hong Kong tried to rely on their three-point shooting but it was not enough to help them regain the lead in the dying minutes of the game.
After their impressive maiden game against the Philippines, Palestine has looked sketchy in their FIBA games debut. They got off to a hot start in this game, going up 21-12 at the end of the first quarter, but lost composure in the second and third frames to eventually fall to Japan, 67-74. Japan amped up their defensive pressure in those quarters and held Palestine to just 12 points in the third frame. Joji Takeuchi was the hero for Japan in this encounter. He dominated in the post with 21 points and 19 boards. Palestine’s Sani Sakakini did his best to challenge Takeuchi with 27 points and 17 rebounds of his own.
In Group F China remained dominant and easily secured a 72-90 win over Lebanon. The Chinese squad is the last remaining undefeated team in the competition and the hosts will pose a tough challenge for any nation seeking to grab the gold. They led in this game from start to finish in a clinical display of some well executed basketball. Yi Jianlian led China with 19 points and five rebounds.
Qatar secured their spot in the quarterfinals after a thrilling upset of Korea, 69-63. Korea led the game in the first quarter, but Qatar surged and fought back in the second frame, seizing the lead going into halftime, 35-31. Qatar dictated the pace of the game from beginning and Korea could not get its run-and-gun style going. A methodical and slower pace favored the bigger Qatari squad and they took full advantage of the tempo. They also had a lot of help from their reserves who outscored their Korean counterparts 41-10.
Jordan dowsed the hopes of Kazakhstan after taking them down, 87-73. Alex Legion poured in 23 points for Jordan while also dishing out five assists. Jordan overcame an impressive showing by Kazakhstan’s Jerry Johnson who put up a game-high 26 points. Kazakhstan are 0-3 in the second stage and are officially out of the running.